The Einstein Archives Online

The Einstein Archives Online is sponsored by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Princeton University Press and the California Institute of Technology. It brings together more than 40,000 documents in the collection of Albert Einstein, plus an additional 30,000 documents classified as Einstein-related.

The site is very simple, clean and dedicated to a single topic.

As you can see, it is divided into three simple sections: 1) Digitized Manuscripts, 2) Finding Aids, and an 3) Archival Database. I'll
discuss each of these in turn.

First, as you can see on the front page, the site includes a gallery as a teaser. This contains a few examples of important manuscripts. This
is a fantastic addition, as it takes the user to important and probably
the most sought digital resource directly, without any fumbling about.
The screen shot below illustrates what I mean.


It includes seven important digitized original documents. For example, digitized documents regarding Einsteins work on E=mc2 and General Relativity, plus his US travel diary, load directly into the interface. A description in the sidebar and PDF downloads are available also. This is simple and effective. It provides a great glimpse of a few highlights without the need to search or browse through the entire collection. These serve as
a great teaser to what is included in the site as a whole.  Many users
may get no farther than this. As it contains thousands of documents, the
site still manages to educate without the need to search or browse more
deeply. Often sites have rich resources, but fail to attract users, or
even let them know what the site contains.

1) The digitized manuscripts themselves are organized hierarchically
into three sections:


a) Scientific material

b) Non-scientific material

c) Biographical material.

Javascript menus allow users to open and close these dynamic menus
which open and form tree structures delineating the categories. As can
be seen in the screenshot to the right, Scientific Materials opens
accordingly, ending in this example with "Notes of Einstein's Lectures
by Others". These are then organized into folders that contain the
files.  They have links for the database information (in EAD format),
with links to the PDF, the publication information, and any image files
(if the document is available in digitized original; this is the case
with about 3,000 of the documents).

2) The section on Finding aids is a one page document that gives a
few technical details and publishing information, as well as a detailed
time line of Einstein's life (1879 -1955). It has brief sections on the
Archival History, the Scope and Contents of the Collection, and its
system of arrangement. The system of textual materials corresponds to
microfilm reels precisely numbered, in order to find the originals. This
numbering corresponds to the three sections of digitized manuscripts
(a, b and c) described above. This means that the reels and the
digitized organization of the site correspond perfectly. This is partly
due to the fact that Einstein collected most of these materials himself,
and upon his death his personal secretary, Helen Dukas and a Harvard
Physics professor, Gerald Holton, took pains to organize it. Its current
form is organized into database records following EAD guidelines.

This makes the site even more clean and modern in its functionality
and form.  It is actually a joy to browse, even if you don't read the
documents themselves, as it is very  fast and responsive to every click.

3) The Archival database section is basically just a search and
advanced search page.  It is effective at giving brief and simple
explanations of the fields in the "help" section.  Searches again lead
to a very modern listing of records, in the exact same style as we find
when browsing, with database records and PDFs.

The collection supposedly also contains photos, audio materials and
facsimilies for correspondence, but have not yet been included in this
site. They can be found at a sister site: Albert Einstein Archives of the Hebrew University. It does not mention whether the sites will eventually be combined. In any case, both of these sites fall under a larger project, the Einstein Papers Project which is meant to contain them both (though with separate URLs and different interfaces). This is the project's only issue. It is not apparent how these three digital libraries are meant to interact and whether they will eventually be combined under one umbrella website, as they should. I encourage you to take a further look at these sites.